It’s a lovely bright day down on the seafront. But it’s the HAPPY BIRTHDAY balloons which grab my attention. Goodness, the lockdown baby is one-year-old today!
This time last year, a young couple who live locally, had their first baby. It was just when the world was about to change. I must admit that my heart went out to them. What a difficult time to have a little one. It’s hard enough (and sometimes scary) to cope with a newborn. But being pregnant and then giving birth during a pandemic is uncharted water.
Yet, to my amazement, I would often see the father bringing his baby daughter down to the front every morning in her pram. He stuck to the rules, observing social distancing. So did everyone else who waved as they passed. (Including me.) Little M, as I’ll call her, has the most wonderful smile. I can honestly say that she has cheered us all up during these months by showing us that life still goes on – and that we can enjoy it as she clearly does.
And now she is one!
I’d love to give her a birthday present but I don’t want to go near. But I do hope they are reading this and know how much pleasure they have given to their local neighbourhood.
Have you had new additions to the family?
Have your children had a baby during lockdown? If so, I’d love to hear from you. How has it been? My contact details are at the end if you’d like to get in touch.
Meanwhile, today has been a BIG week in our childcare bubble. Regular readers might recall that my little grandson George didn’t take kindly to nursery when he started at the age of two. As I was around to look after him, my daughter and son-in-law decided to leave it for a year.
It was the right decision. He loved it when he got to three – but then lockdown stepped in. Although the nursery remained open, George stayed at home, partly because my daughter has low immunity. But this week, he started again.
Oh dear. What if the gap has been too long? Supposing he doesn’t like it and refuses to go?
I wait with baited breath for my daughter to ring.
“He ran in, Mum,” she tells me, her voice bubbling with excitement. “He couldn’t wait to see his friends.”
Phew! Even better, when he comes out, he is beaming from ear to ear and can’t wait to go back. He’s just doing two days a week but this seems just right at the moment.
It’s also given little Rose some one-to-one time with her mummy before she goes back to school on Monday. It takes me back to the days when I had that with each one of mine. There’s a five-year gap between my second and third which helped to give that individual attention.
Mind you, I was writing from home so we had some rather dodgy moments when I needed to talk to a features editor while the children were up to their elbows in paint! I’ll never forget receiving a phone call from a Mr Brown when I was trying to amuse all three of them at the same time. At first I thought he was a plumber (my daughter had flooded the bathroom while bathing her dolly). “I think you have the wrong person,” he said.
Of course! Mr Brown must be the magician I’d booked for my six year old’s birthday party.
“Actually,” he said to me, “some of my patients call me a plumber and others call me a magician. My name is Mr Brown. I’m a consultant and I believe you wanted to interview me for a magazine article.”
It took me a long time to live that one down! Luckily he understood but I must admit that now I’m a working granny instead of “just” a working mum, I’ve been rather intrigued by all the stories about working from home during the pandemic. I’m just glad I didn’t have to home-educate my children at the same time! I take my hat off to all those working parents who also have to tackle school subjects without any knowledge or training. It’s also taught me a thing or two!
Now school is about to start again, I’m filled with a mixture of emotions…
Rose is desperate for some social interaction after three and a half months at home. At the moment, if she sees friends on the street, she takes care not to go near them because of social distancing. Suddenly we are asking them all to do an about turn. It won’t be easy.
Apparently they’re not allowed to take in school bags in order to reduce the risk of infection. This sounds sensible. They’re also going to have family flow-tests. Even so, none of us really know how it will go. “We’ll just have to wait and see,” says a granny friend.
Very true. If you’ve got a grandchild starting school this week, do let us know how you feel about it.
Thank you also for your lovely emails. Wendy Tibbetts got in touch about keeping in touch with other grandparents in the family.
“When my daughter’s father-in-law was terminally ill he didn’t want visitors. I started sending him a monthly newsletter with news and photos of the grandchildren and what we’d all been up to so that he had something else to think about and news from the outside world. He looked forward to our letters and I wrote to him for over 12 months until he sadly passed away. During lockdown we haven’t been allowed to visit my mother-in-law in a care home. When we could visit, I used to talk to another care home resident. As we haven’t been able to visit I have been sending her a monthly newsletter along the same lines. I know that she looks forward to receiving them. It’s not the same as personal contact, but it keeps us in touch until the day comes when we can visit her. Thank you for your articles and daily posts . It keeps us entertained during these tough times.
Gabrielle Fey, another regular reader, told us about her children’s ‘adoptive’ grandparents.
“When our children were small, both grannies were far away and the lady upstairs in our block became their substitute grandmother. They were also allowed to call her ‘Granny’ or ‘Oma’, as she was German. It was nice for her too, as when her husband died she wasn’t alone. I remember her with gratitude. The boys loved going to her place, especially as she had a television – which we at that time didn’t – but she also played cards with them, went out with them and gave me the chance to go to the doctor or such without lugging the children with me. They loved her dearly.”
Grandparent of the week – Ali
Ali, 58, from Devon has two grandchildren, Corbyn (5) and Seth (8).
“My grandchildren only live a 40-minute drive away. However, I’m shielding because of health issues so I haven’t been able to see them properly since the last lockdown started. My daughter (their mother) sometimes has my dog for me so when I drop off the dog, we wave through the window.
“I’m known as Nanni Ali. The ‘i’ at the end of ‘Nanni’ is to go with the ‘Ali’!
“We talk on the phone but to be honest, it doesn’t work that well. They’ve also told me that they don’t want to do ‘Zoom granny’ any more! I’ve also tried reading them a story on the phone but it’s not the same as sitting next to them with the illustrations.
“But what DOES work are surprise boxes which I send them. At the moment, I’m putting together a package with a magnifying glass inside and some written challenges like ‘Find a wildflower’ or ‘See you can spot an earwig or butterfly’.
“I’ll also send packets of seeds which they can plant in the garden. Cooking challenges are good too. I’ll write out a recipe and send them the ingredients. Rocky Road biscuits went down well the other week! So did the gingerbread challenge. Corbyn and Seth make them with my daughter at their end and then send me pictures.
“Another hit is my ‘True or False’ quiz. I send them facts on a postcard and ask if they’re true or false. I’ve also sent pictures of road signs to see if they know what they mean.”
“When we’re allowed to meet outside at the end of March, I’m definitely going to see them – socially distance of course!”
Do Get In Touch
If you would like to tell us about your situation as a grandparent during lockdown, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
JANE CORRY is the author of five best-selling thrillers, published by Penguin. Her latest novel I Made A Mistake is about Betty, a grandmother who lives with her son’s family. Available in paperback (£7.99) and also as an e-book and audio, narrated by Emilia Fox. http://bit.ly/IMadeaMistake OR https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Jane-Corry/I-Made-a-Mistake/24376830